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Aug 30, 2018

Steven Burke

Steven Burke header

Job title and company: sustainability manager, Consigli
Degree(s): BS in Business Administration; MS in Sustainability Management
Professional interests: Sustainable design; high-performance buildings; energy analysis and energy efficiency; corporate sustainability; quantitative techniques for sustainability management; renewable energy; sustainability education; sustainable development

What are you working on now?
In my role, I manage many different sustainability projects at once. I generally work on around 20 different projects at a time, so I’m working on a couple of K-12 projects, some higher education facilities, a couple of libraries, some commercial office projects, and a few others.

What inspired you today?
I saw someone this morning with a breakfast sandwich, and I thought to myself, “That should be me.” So, I went and bought one. It was delicious.

What are you reading?
They say leaders are readers, but I just decided to stop reading. I’m working on a solid eight years of no reading now. It’s amazing how much free time it creates! I feel bad when someone gives me a book, because I don’t have the heart to tell them I won’t open it. But I’m not a monster; I make sure to give it to someone else who will use it.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?
Into the construction industry! I was not sure if it would be the right fit for me after working in design, but it has been an unbelievable experience so far. People are decisive, action-oriented, and surprisingly open-minded. The industry is responding to the evolution of technology and changes in how we grade high-performance buildings, and I think we’re headed in a very exciting direction.

What is the future of architecture/design practice?
I don’t think there is any question that the direction the industry is going is towards more sustainable buildings. I truly believe that by 2040 what we consider to be an extremely sustainable, high-performance building today will be the baseline in the future. I think all building designs will take into account resiliency, advanced energy performance, materials, indoor air quality, etc. I also think there will be an increased focus on the existing building market. The pressures of climate change and the sheer ratio of the aging existing building stock relative to new developable land around major urban centers is going to force redevelopment and rely on savvy designers to deliver hybrid architecture blending the old and new.

What do you hope to contribute from your work?
Like probably anyone working in a sustainability position, I hope I can look back at the end of my career and say that I was able to have a positive impact and leave things better than we found them.

If you were on a late-night TV show, what would your 30-second plug be?
Climate change is real, and we shouldn’t be debating it, but biodiversity loss is a much more rapid and immediate existential threat. Massive extinction is speeding up, not slowing down, and as stewards of the built environment and the environment more broadly, I think architects need to do whatever they can to help prevent biodiversity loss.

If you could create any Design Awards category—realistic or fantastic—what would it be?
There are the Darwin Awards for celebrating the devolution of humankind, and I would like see a Darwin Award for the least sustainable buildings in architecture.